In early January, I excitedly asked friends, family, clients, and colleagues about their New Year resolutions, and soon learned that no one makes resolutions anymore. Needless to say, as a Virgo who is relentless in my quest for self-improvement, I was quite disappointed. While everyone else enjoyed what I can only imagine is a relaxing and enjoyable sense of self-acceptance, I rigorously applied myself to my goal for 2015: to meditate for 15 minutes every day.
While hardly necessary, I thought some tangibles would nicely underscore my commitment, so I ordered a zafu cushion from Amazon and assembled some peaceful items of decor and artwork.
I am set up for success! Yet 9 1/2 hours of meditation later, I have not had Kundalini energy shoot up my spine and I have not dropped through a portal in the universe to the center of God’s palm a la Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. Nothing mystical has occurred. This might be directly related to the fact that I cannot empty my mind for more than about 8 seconds at a stretch. I think the favored grooves in my brain are “things to do”: chores, recipes, notes I meant to jot down. Then I get frustrated with myself, and say, “Sarah, you’re going to sit here regardless for 15 minutes, so you can either focus and make this time meaningful or you can waste it.” It is not lost on me that this is a truth that can be extended to virtually all experiences in my life. I hope meditation will teach me to be present. It’s certainly illuminating how mundane, repetitive, and unproductive my thought processes are.
When I’m not unsuccessfully trying to clear my mind 2/3 of the time, I spend the remaining 1/3 of the time in meditation practicing metta, or loving-kindness. I was thinking “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be free from suffering” and then extending those wishes to my family and good friends. I thought the words, but I never resonated with suffering, because in my mind I don’t suffer: I have all my basic needs met, food, shelter, etc. Then I read a book that said a more appropriate translation of the Pali word would be “discontentment” instead of “suffering” and that was a light bulb moment for me. Discontentment? Oh, how I suffer! So now I think “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be free from discontentment” and it’s been much more beneficial to my perspective.
I’ll keep practicing to be present and content, 15 minutes a day on my cushion, in the hopes that this practice eventually becomes my life.